Apprenticeship Startup WhiteHat raises $4 million in Seed Funding

  • WhiteHat, a tech startup building an outstanding alternative to university through high quality apprenticeships, have announced a $4 million seed round led by Silicon Valley investor Lightspeed Venture Partners, with participation from Village Global, ShopTalk and Money 20/20 founder Anil Aggarwal, and British tech entrepreneur Wendy Tan White.

    Launched in 2016, WhiteHat are challenging the idea that university is the only path to the best careers. They match ambitious non-graduate talent with apprenticeships across a wide range of sectors — including tech, professional services, finance and retail — and deliver top-class applied learning in partnership with General Assembly, Flatiron School, and other leading content providers.

    Apprenticeships are becoming an increasingly important part of the UK employment landscape with over 400,000 people starting an apprenticeship in 2018. WhiteHat is leading on high quality apprenticeships for those starting their careers, and is already working with some of the most exciting companies in the UK, including Google, Facebook, WeWork, Salesforce, Warner Bros and Burberry. The apprenticeships last a minimum of 12 months and provide aspirational opportunities in digital marketing and social media, software engineering, accounting and finance, leadership, and business administration.

    “We’re changing the way young people from all backgrounds are able to access the best careers and are partnering with Lightspeed to scale this global vision for the future of work,” said Euan Blair co-founder. “Every developed economy is facing a skills shortage, compounded by universities not adapting to the changing nature of the labour market and, with dramatically rising university costs, students are increasingly looking for alternatives. Finally, nearly every major company in the tech, creative and professional services space is trying to figure out how to introduce more diversity into their organisations.”

    “The solution needs to combine top-class applied learning, linked to specific roles, with a job at a great employer that doesn’t cost the user huge amounts of money — that’s what we’re providing at WhiteHat,” commented Euan.

    “For the first time we’re presenting a compelling alternative to university both in terms of career prospects and earning potential via apprenticeships. As we look to the future of work, employers are understanding that applied learning is more useful than academic knowledge,” said Sophie Adelman co-founder.

    “There’s an immediate opportunity in the UK for a better approach to apprenticeships, driven by the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy in April 2017: every single employer with offices in the UK and a payroll of £3m a year or more, needs to spend 0.5% on apprenticeship training or forfeit the money as a tax. At WhiteHat we provide an effective way to deploy their levy funds by developing a diverse pipeline of talent who will become the future leaders in their organisations. This enables companies to future-proof their businesses with the skills they need and will increase retention and employee satisfaction over the long term.”

    The funding round, led by Silicon Valley-based Lightspeed Venture Partners, is their second UK investment and their first at seed stage. Lightspeed is a leading global venture capital firm, with over $6bn of committed capital under management. Lightspeed has backed a range of global leaders, with early investments in Snap, Mulesoft, TaskRabbit, AppDynamics, Nest, and StitchFix.

    Lightspeed partner Nakul Mandan will be joining WhiteHat’s board. “WhiteHat are redefining how high school graduates can kickstart a great career and a lifelong education. At the same time, WhiteHat’s apprenticeship program enables companies to attract and engage with high quality talent at an early age, and that’s what the best of the best companies always try to do. It’s not surprising that in a short time, WhiteHat have been able to attract some of the world’s top companies as their customers. We’re very excited to partner with Euan and Sophie on this journey, and help them scale the business in the UK and beyond,” said Mandan.

    WhiteHat is also announcing that Josh Bersin is joining the company as an advisor. Josh is an independent analyst and founder of Bersin™ by Deloitte. “Of all the ways people prepare for their careers, apprenticeship has always been one of the most valuable. WhiteHat’s unique model has the potential to help people of any age upskill themselves, prepare for a career, or evolve into a new role,” said Josh.

    “Employers have been looking for a solution like this for years, so I believe WhiteHat is in the right place at the right time.” Bersin is a contributor to Deloitte’s annual Global Human Capital Trends report.

Share this story